Pamela Amick Klawitter's New York Times crossword has the sort of poker theme I can appreciate—one that's really not about poker at all. The poker phrase I'M IN describes how the four theme entries are altered—the letters IM are inserted into each. Prodigal son turns into American Idol's PRODIGAL SIMON. If you missed it, last week Simon Cowell ragged on a contestant who said he liked crosswords, terming that boring. (Oh, really? Jake Gyllenhaal seems to like them, and Christina Applegate commented on Rex's blog after her surname was in the Sunday puzzle.) A sedentary job turns into a geological SEDIMENTARY JOB, which surely has many layers. I haven't seen the old-style [Twig broom] called a BESOM in the puzzle lately—here's a picture of one.
I'm thinking Jonathan Gersch's New York Sun puzzle isn't actually so difficult. But I'm having a hard time keeping my eyes open, while open eyes are generally considered a prerequisite for solving crosswords. There is the trickiness of a rebus, and of a rebus that lands in odd places. There are five [LIGHT] rebus squares in the four longest Across answers, but also in a few other places with no apparent rhyme or reason. If there's a rationale behind where the rebus squares are, some sort of pattern, please en[LIGHT]en me.
I don't love giving a Thursday rebus puzzle short shrift, but I'm going to bed. G'night!
Jack McInturff's LA Times crossword is suffering from colony collapse disorder—the B's have abandoned the theme entries, leaving L words where there used to be BL words. (There is still a B in the fill, though.) Favorite fill: quaint old-fashioned POULTICES, [Anti-inflammatory dressings]. Fetch me my leeches while you're at it, and my trepanation kit.
Patrick Blindauer's CrosSynergy puzzle, "Heart of Stone," has a GEMstone at the heart of each theme entry. E.g., ORANGE MARMALADE. One fill entry is a 6-letter partial, "truth OR DARE." Deb Amlen was just telling me she doesn't mind partials longer than 5 letters (provided they're shorter than the theme entries)—"if the entry is humorous enough (generally what I'm aiming for), OR sparks a particularly good memory in the solver, it should be OK." I agree with that. Merl Reagle and Maura Jacobson's puzzles have plenty of 7-letter partials that don't bother me, and "truth OR DARE" is more fun than, say, "RACK AND pinion steering." I like the story suggested by the longer fill here: The IMPATIENT OLD MASTER naturally went straight from the SKI RESORT to the EMERGENCY room. One final note: Pretend the clue for 6-Down is [Poet and novelist Elinor].
March 05, 2008